The ultimate comfort food, only better: coconut tapioca pudding!

"Can I eat it now, Mom, please---?"

“Can I eat it now, Mom, please—?”










When I was a little girl growing up in Nelson, whenever somebody was sick or things were rough–say, we were surprised by an April snowstorm, or sad events that were taking place at school. Mom would always cook us something to make us feel better.

I still do this today, for my own kids.  Getting sick?  Here, let me cook you something. Tired and overwhelmed?  Eat something: you’ll feel better!  You look tired.  Here, eat some of this fresh bread, it’ll give you energy.  I know there’s a lot out there right now about the dangers of emotional eating, but it’s not just the food but the care that somebody else has gone to the trouble to prepare something special for us, that is a comfort.

I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past few days.  Sweet hubster Bryan saw me stumping around, trying to finish the few things that I really had to do before I could return to bed.  “Could I make you something?” he asked.

“The only thing I really want is something you can’t make for me,” I answered.

“Your mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup?” he said.

Yup.  That was it.  And it starts with several hours of roasting and then stewing a couple of my old hens, and making noodles from scratch, and I knew that Bryan had to leave for work in less than an hour.  If somebody takes the time to make that soup, it makes you feel better, because it is an hours-long endeavour:  I just know that Mom loves me: she’s taking the time to make me soup!

I could write an entire blog post (maybe I will, someday) just about the glorious meals that Mom cooked for us, and how good and well-fed and loved we felt.  Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy; chicken pot pie; beef with noodles, Swedish pancakes with cottage cheese and syrup:  yum.  And then there were the desserts:  strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and fresh berries, hot pie with ice cream, angel-food cake.  And the most nurturing comfort food of all:  tapioca pudding.  My sibs and I, by rights, should all weigh about 300 pounds.

If there was tapioca pudding bubbling on the stove, with Mom standing carefully over it with a wooden spoon, then you just got your bowl and waited in line, and then sometimes you’d burn your mouth on it because you couldn’t wait to eat it!

I bought this bag of tapioca at a little Mennonite store in Missouri.

I bought this bag of tapioca at a little Mennonite store in Missouri.

Tapioca comes from the cassava plant and is a root vegetable, not a grain and not a pasta (hence gluten-free).  It is nutritious enough that many Southeast Asians lived on it during WWII when food was scarce.  It contains folate (one of the B vitamins) and also small amounts of healthy fatty acids, so you can enjoy this dessert guilt-free!  Cool, huh?

I’m sharing a tapioca pudding recipe today with you, Gentle Readers, because I know that everybody--but everybody–needs a little comfort food from time to time.  Yes . . . needs it.  This recipe uses canned coconut milk instead of dairy milk, and since I had a few ripe mangoes in the ‘fridge, I garnished it with mango.  Coconut and mango–two summery, island tastes on a day in April when the snow is falling and the wind is blowing and you look out the window with a heavy heart and wonder if it’s actually January.  Perfect.

The ultimate comfort food, with a twist: coconut tapioca pudding!
Recipe Type: Comfort pudding
Author: Amy via vomitingchicken
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This tapioca pudding is made with coconut milk and garnished with fresh mango. Perfect comfort food, and it’s gluten-free and vegan, too.
  • 1/2 cup pearl tapioca
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 can coconut milk or light coconut milk
  • optional: toasted coconut and fresh mango
  1. Cover the tapioca with 1 cup water for 15-20 minutes, or until it expands slightly. Don’t over-soak, lest the tapioca gets mushy. Pour off excess water.
  2. Place tapioca, salt, and 2 cups water in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary, to prevent tapioca from bubbling and “spitting.”
  3. When tapioca is soft and a little gooey, switch off heat and put on lid tightly. Let sit for 10 minutes–the heat inside the “pearls” will finish turning all of them soft and translucent.
  4. Let cool on stove-top, then cover with lid and refrigerate until cold. It will thicken.
  5. When chilled: Scoop out 1/4 cup or so per person and place in serving bowls. Pour 1/4 cup or so coconut milk over each portion and stir to mix–the pudding will be on the runny side. Add a bit of sweetener–honey, or maple syrup, or brown sugar–to each portion, if desired, and sprinkle with coconut. Garnish with fresh mango.


Everybody at our house agrees that the best thing about tapioca pudding is those little translucent "pearls" and the way they feel on the tongue!

Everybody at our house agrees that the best thing about tapioca pudding is those little translucent “pearls” and the way they feel on the tongue!

26 thoughts on “The ultimate comfort food, only better: coconut tapioca pudding!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Pudding with chia seed—wow, talk about a powerfood dessert! That sounds awesome, and I know that chia seeds plump up like tapioca. I’d love that recipe, Sara!

  1. Chef William

    Amy, you will fit right in when you take your family for a visit to Mexico. You sound like the house wives of Mexico. When you enter their homes, the way they greet you is to offer you something to eat. Their “comfort foods” might be warm hand made tortillas with fresh refried beans, but you can bet it will be finished with something sweet like mango, coconut or papaya with a slice of homemade cheese. The coconut and mango in this recipe makes it very exciting and something I will make for my wife the next time she wants something sweet. Of course she usually asks in the middle of a good movie, so I will plan in advance.
    (Special note: In Mexico, if you are not offered something to eat during the visit, it is because they feel that it is a formal visit, which is not exactly the same as a “friendly” visit.)

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I love that sort of hospitality. Any time somebody comes to our house, we look about for what we can offer–hot tea? Homemade bread? This tapioca pudding would be a welcome offering, too. I can’t wait to plan our trip! Thanks for opening up such a wonderful glimpse of life in Mexico.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Good for you, Regina! It’s easy to whip this up while you’re making dinner, and then you have a nice dessert afterwards!

  2. Shawn

    I love, love tapioca pudding. I didn’t know all the good things about it that you explained I just know I love it. I have not made it in a very long time so I might have to go out and get some tapioca pearls and make some.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I know, Shawn! I didn’t really realize that it was actually GOOD FOR YOU until I did a bit of reading about it. win-win!

  3. Carolina HeartStrings

    Ah, when I first read the title I thought , oh no not for me because I don’t like coconut (the substance) but I DO like the flavor. So… now that I see it uses coconut milk you have me convinced to try this! Yum.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I actually stirred unsweetened coconut into ours when I made it last night, but you certainly don’t have to.

  4. Carrie

    Again, Amy….you are going to make me try something I’ve avoided my whole life!!! ARGH!!! I WILL weigh 300 if I keep reading your blog! Dang you…. Hugs – Carrie

  5. Francene Stanley

    Mmmm. Not sure I want to try this, However, if it’s good for me, I might have a try. I like anything that improves the health. My husband has fond memories of the pudding. He used to eat it with his School Dinners during WW2.

  6. skybluepinkish

    Oh how strange. Our comfort pudding is coconut and cardomon rice pudding! In fact I cooked it on Wednesday evening. Will try the tapoica version, haven’t cooked tapioca for years. Wonder if it will work with farola as well?

  7. Dot Hurley

    I love tapioca pudding though I haven’t had any in a long time. We used to eat it a lot when I was a child but always baked it in the oven with milk. Your recipe sounds delicious – I’ll have a go at cooking it soon.

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